Patients with a head injury who "talk and die" in the 1990s

J Trauma. 2003 Mar;54(3):497-502. doi: 10.1097/01.TA.0000030627.71453.CD.


Background: Patients who "talk and die" after head injury may represent a group who suffer delayed and therefore potentially preventable complications after injury. We have compared the clinical and pathologic features of patients who talk and die with those who "talk and live" after head injury.

Methods: Data collected prospectively by the Scottish Trauma Audit Group were used to identify patients with a head injury and classify them according to verbal response at admission to hospital. All "talking" patients in the catchment area of a regional neurosurgical center were selected and those who died were compared with those who survived.

Results: Seven hundred eighty-nine talking patients were identified. Seven hundred twenty-seven patients survived and 62 died. Patients who talked and died were older, had more severe extracranial injuries, had lower consciousness levels, and reached theater more quickly than those who talked and lived. Thirty-one of the patients that died had extra-axial hematomas.

Conclusion: Even with increased availability of computed tomographic scanning, some patients still talk and die after head injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / classification
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / physiopathology
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scotland
  • Speech*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed